The Costs of Alcohol, Illegal Drugs, and Tobacco in Canada, 2002

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 33 Russell Street, Room 2035B, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S1, Canada.
Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs (Impact Factor: 2.76). 12/2007; 68(6):886-95. DOI: 10.15288/jsad.2007.68.886
Source: PubMed


The aim of this study was to estimate costs attributable to substance use and misuse in Canada in 2002.
Based on information about prevalence of exposure and risk relations for more than 80 disease categories, deaths, years of life lost, and hospitalizations attributable to substance use and misuse were estimated. In addition, substance-attributable fractions for criminal justice expenditures were derived. Indirect costs were estimated using a modified human capital approach.
Costs of substance use and misuse totaled almost Can. $40 billion in 2002. The total cost per capita for substance use and misuse was about Can. $1,267: Can. $463 for alcohol, Can. $262 for illegal drugs, and Can. $541 for tobacco. Legal substances accounted for the vast majority of these costs (tobacco: almost 43% of total costs; alcohol: 37%). Indirect costs or productivity losses were the largest cost category (61%), followed by health care (22%) and law enforcement costs (14%). More than 40,000 people died in Canada in 2002 because of substance use and misuse: 37,209 deaths were attributable to tobacco, 4,258 were attributable to alcohol, and 1,695 were attributable to illegal drugs. A total of about 3.8 million hospital days were attributable to substance use and misuse, again mainly to tobacco.
Substance use and misuse imposes a considerable economic toll on Canadian society and requires more preventive efforts.

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    • "Alcohol and drug use may both have acute and long term consequences for the workplace. It is well known that such use and/or hangover effects may cause an increased risk for accidents, faults, inefficiency, and absence from work [1-4], all undesired effects. "
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    • "Differences in types of societal costs that were included in the four investigated cost-of-illness studies were observed. All studies included public order and safety costs and work-related (productivity) costs, and all but one study did include drink-driving costs [10,12]. Productivity costs were estimated using the 'human capital' approach. "
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    • "At a societal level, there are associated costs to public health and health care as well as to the welfare and criminal justice systems in dealing with these risk and harm phenomena. In Canada, illicit drug use costs in 2002 were estimated at $40 billion or $1,267 per capita with the three highest contributors being loss of productivity, direct health care and law enforcement [10]. In 1996, Vancouver's Medical Health Officer reported that the increase in injection drug use seen in Vancouver was resulting in an increased incidence of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis, increased hospital and emergency service utilization for treatment of HIV-related diseases, septicaemia and endocarditis, as well as increased ambulance responses and emergency room visits related to drug overdoses. "
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